India after Independence
It is now more than fifty-seven years since we achieved freedom. When we look back, can we feel happy? Have our dreams about a prosperous India been realised?
Independent India had to face some thorny problems, which were unprecedented in the history of the country. In the months prior to 15th August 1947 and after, a number of people were killed in communal riots. We are reminded of Khushwant Singh’s Train to Pakistan, which gives a brilliant, brutally realistic story of inflamed passions during partition days. A large number of refugees who came to India from the areas to be included in Pakistan had to be rehabilitated by the government. “Not since the migration of the Israelites had history witnessed so mammoth a movement of the human race as started to cross the Punjab borders from late June until nearly-‘ a year later.” (Frank Moraes). The government successfully tackled these problems. We had to fight one war with China (1962) and three wars with Pakistan (1948, 1965 and 1971). Natural calamities, like floods, drought and earthquakes, brought about difficulties for the people.
After attaining freedom, India framed a Constitution to ensure justice and equality for her citizens. It aims at creating “a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic” (42″‘ Amendment 1976). To quote K.M. Munshi, “Whatever success we have achieved in the sphere of planning or in the international sphere has largely been the result of the stability which this country acquired under our Constitution.”
One of our great achievements has been our ability to preserve democracy. The rulers of newly independent countries show a tendency to become dictators. They dislike the slow and expensive processes of democracy. Except for a few years, when democratically elected governments came to power, Pakistan has mostly been under military rule..Myanmar (Burma till May 89), which became independent on January 4, 1948, is now under the rule of a military junta. The leading Opposition leader Suu Kyi (Nobel Prize Winner for Peace 1991) has been placed under house arrest. But our leaders have always resisted this temptation of doing away with democracy.
India’s achievement in several fields is commendable. We have almost achieved self-sufficiency in agricultural production. Engineering and precision goods, ships, aircraft, and automobiles, etc. arc manufactured indigenous. Good progress has also been achieved in defence research and nuclear energy, etc.
The majority of the people live in acute poverty. Rising prices make their life miserable. The youth of the country suffer from unemployment and under-employment. The atrocities perpetrated on women and the Harijans are horrible. Population explosion has become a stumbling block to economic development. Communal riots and militancy in some states aggravate the sufferings of the people. They also cause the loss of many human lives. We have not been able to eradicate the illiteracy of the masses. Politicians avail themselves of each and every opportunity to make money, by, hook or by crook. Corruption has spread everywhere.
When we look back, we feel sorrow as well as joy. We must have rulers who are free from corruption and who dedicate their lives to the welfare of the people. Those politicians who are interested only in making money can do no good to the country. Socialism or socialistic pattern of society cherished by Nehru, the architect of modern India, does not appeal to our rulers in New Delhi. He felt that only socialism could solve our problems. He said, “I stand for socialism and, I hope, India will stand for socialism and that India will go towards the constitution of a socialist State.”
The glaring economic inequality existing in our society may prove fatal far our democracy. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s words are prophetic. He said in the Constituent Assembly on November, 25,1949: “On January 26, 1950 we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. in politics we will have equality and in economic life, we will have inequality’. . . we must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment or else those who suffer with in Equality will blow up the structure of political democracy which this assembly so laboriously built up.”